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Tuesday, June 6, 2017
I suggest the alderman have one big gigantic bake sale. All proceeds going to fund the pensions.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday he would ask the Chicago City Council to sign off on a 28.2 percent increase in the monthly tax tacked onto phone bills to make the city’s 911 emergency system modern and self sufficient.
Earlier this week, a top mayoral aide told the Chicago Sun-Times that Emanuel would use the increase — from $3.90 a month to $5 for every cell phone and land line — to help shore up the Laborers pension fund “well into the next decade.”
On Friday, the mayor played a bit of a shell game.
He tried to sell the 28 percent increase — on the heels of a 56 percent increase approved by the City Council in 2014 — as essential to maintaining Chicago’s 911 emergency system.
In 2015, the year after the City Council approved the 56 percent increase to save the Laborers pension fund, the telephone tax generated $110.8 millions, officials said.
One year later, the annual take dropped to $97.3 million as more and more Chicagoans gave up their land lines and relied only on cell phones.
This year, the mayor’s budget projects a continued drop to $95.4 million – but that was before the Illinois General Assembly quietly approved an increase in the waning hours of the spring session. It flew in under the radar because it was tucked away into a broader telecommunications bill that covers funding for 911 emergency centers across the state.
Blind-sided aldermen who must approve the increase accused the mayor and state lawmakers of pulling a fast one and “slipping one through in the bottom of the ninth inning,” as Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) put it.